Pearl Street Serendipity
I’ve been having a few issues lately with myself. Of course, when do I not have issues with myself, am I right? Anyways, yeah, it’s been building up for a while, and probably somewhat exacerbated by some recent medication changes. This post has to do with anxiety. Since about seven or eight (if I include the years I suffered somewhat misdiagnosed) years ago, I’ve suffered from chronic anxiety. I’m a bit apt to shy away from “severe” chronic anxiety, although, I think some of my family or associates would argue otherwise. For two years, when it came on, it was definitely severe. I could hardly eat any large amount of food. I threw up one time purely because of my anxiety. I couldn’t normal things normal people do, I couldn’t hold normal conversations, I couldn’t live life like a “real” person (as I called it). I was some strange deformation of what a person and their emotions were supposed to be.
But I digress a bit, and really I’ve written about that part of my life elsewhere on the blog before. Since those two years, those two years I’m amazed I survived (I was hospitalized probably four times in two years), anxiety has been a part of me. I’m not really sure how or why this came to be. See, I don’t remember myself as having the type or form of anxiety in my younger years that I do now. I mean, when I’d get worried I’d go overboard sometimes, or when I was stressing about something it was somewhat neurotic, but, when things were okay I was okay. I know I had a bout of OCD like symptoms when I was in eighth grade, but I seemed to tackle them and get over them… maybe even grow out of them? (And of course, a shout out and thanks to my middle school counselor Mrs. McGowan!) While it was going on it was pretty bad, and that was perhaps my first brush with exhibiting signs of mental illness. But, it got better.
In high school I don’t remember having anxiety that could just cripple me, stopping me from seemingly engaging in any kind of behavior. No, in fact, I was pretty confident and just kind of charged ahead and did stuff, at least that’s how I remember it. I mean, according to Maus, I ran what was somewhat a personality cult. I mean, I had issues like incredibly hard unrequited love, being that I was the only gay male I knew existed in the world that was my school and family life. There were neuroses about me, a certain extreme intensity that I oscillated back and forth combined with an over-thinking intellect that kept me from experiencing many things that people usually experience as 16-18 year old, but it’s okay because I experienced other things. But throughout the heaven and hells I constructed for myself, I don’t remember this feeling I get when I’m seemingly attacked by anxiety back then.
I don’t remember it when I first moved in with Maus in the city, or later in with Nathan in another city. I don’t remember being afflicted with what I call anxiety now even though I was definitely battling depression, somewhat manic episodes, and a general loose grip on reality. I remember wanting to be something I couldn’t be in real life so badly I was suicidal, and I remember spending tons of unnecessary money and re-arranging the townhouse at 3 in the morning. I remember the friend I thought I had, but never really had, and I was too crazy blind to see it. But, I don’t remember anxiety.
What do I mean by anxiety in the first place? When I experience anxiety now, and when I was experiencing untreated anxiety during those “two years”, it’s this awful feeling that something is wrong, but I don’t know what it is. It’s this overwhelming feeling that I should be doing something, but I don’t know what that something is. It’s a complete flight-or-fight response in the body; my breathing gets shallow, I just want to either explode at someone or something, or run as far away as I can possibly go, and nothing else exists. Lately, it’s been manifesting in this belief, this horrible powerful feeling that I’m “running out of time” all the time. That somehow, I lack time and it keeps getting shorter and shorter, and that I just don’t have any time to do anything that I want, and part of that is because I can’t bring myself to do anything because I’m freaked out that I’m running out of time!
And then there’s the apartment, and being alone in the apartment. I love my apartment, I really do, but for some reason, it was getting to the point where I couldn’t stand to do anything in my apartment. If I wanted to read I had to do it outside the apartment, like at Starbucks, or lately to save money, the local library. If I wanted to work on a blog post, particularly a tutorial, I had to again do it somewhere like Starbucks or the local library. It’s like I couldn’t/can’t stand the thought of doing something in my apartment besides being miserable, playing a video game, making dinner (cause I absolutely had to), or laying on the couch. You’ll notice I’m placing these sentences in the past tense, and this is because eventually, something happened.
For the last several months it’s been getting worse and worse too, until these last two weeks I basically came to feel like I was waking up every day to this horrible race where I had to get something done, whatever it was (many times I didn’t really know), before I surrender myself to the miserable evenings after I cooked dinner. It seemed to me that once I cooked dinner that was the end of everything, that was the end of the whole day and I couldn’t do anything “productive” or anything I wanted to for the rest of the evening. I basically could only do two things: play a video game, or lay on the couch in a helpless anxious mess puffing away shallow breaths and having Maus look at me like I was ruining his time away from work. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? So, you can see, I started to see every day as this race to get something done (whatever it may be, you know, I should do something, but I don’t know what it is) before I descended into total misery. What was infuriating is that most of the days I failed because I’d sleep in to escape. I’d sleep until 1 PM to escape all this, and then, of course, my day was completely screwed and I lost the race.
This had been building up. I was incredibly angry for long periods of time for days before this, hating on myself, hating everything, hating existence. I spent two days hating everything at a constant rate, and then one day incredibly depressed I was speaking in monotone. Maus was worried, because you know, speaking in monotone is a healthy thing to do. I just had trouble inflecting. I felt like I was a robot.
Every fucking day I was losing the race earlier and earlier, and I couldn’t get anything done until one day I woke up, dropped Maus off at work, got my medication, and then came back to the apartment. Like I said, to save money we’ve been trying to drink our own coffee and not go to Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts every day. So far we’ve been successful for two weeks, but the problem is that I’m stuck in my apartment by myself all day. I’ve never done well sitting around all by myself in my own private space. So this particular day, I attend to my computer for a bit, and then start thinking of all the things I could do and then, of course, all the things I wanted to do that I couldn’t stand doing in my apartment. I was running out of time! I didn’t really want to go to the library, but I didn’t want to stay in my apartment, even though I wanted to work on this, or read that, or do this. I ended up paralyzed on the couch grunting and moaning, rubbing my palms all over my face and eyes.
You have to remember, I’m a grown man doing this by myself in my apartment. It was 10:30 in the morning, and already I was “making dinner”. Was the rest of the day then going to be one giant evening where I couldn’t do shit but lay around anxious or anxiously play video games? Finally, I pick up Maus and we go to Walmart. Again, it goes somewhat well, and actually, we started having a good conversation, and Maus even overcame some of his inhibitions and we “processed” which was good. When it was time to actually make dinner. I got home and pissed off ran around the kitchen being super pissed off and super awful. Maus hid in the bedroom, he didn’t want to be around that. I texted my mother that “I fucking hate this, I fucking hate this, I fu….” and then a little later screamed three times, “I can’t make dinner! I’m out of time!” I burst into the bedroom yelling “I’m out of time!” and curl up into a ball. Maus leaves the bedroom, and I start thrashing around on the bed, rubbing my palms into my eyes, growling, groaning and moaning that “I’m out of time.” I can’t do anything because I’m out of time! So he calls the clinic and sends a message to my doctor that this isn’t working out, and then threatens to take me to the emergency clinic. A huge fight ensues.
Finally, we both calm down to the point we can have a rational conversation and things improved. I just about cried, and I would have if it wasn’t for this whole unable to cry thing. I physically can’t seem to bring myself to cry, even when I want to or it’s appropriate. I just don’t cry anymore. We talked about how old I was, what’s been going on, what I’m worried about, what I’m afraid of, where I get some of my behaviors, my dad, my life, everything. I got a lot out and just sat there. I finally, after days and days and days of racing myself, I finally ran out of time.
Other things have been happening in the last two weeks as well. My medication has changed for one. I’ve doubled the dosage of oxcarbazepine, and now have “successfully” reduced my dosage of fluoxetine to zero. I’m no longer taking prozac, just a mood stabilizer and an antipsychotic with additional anti-anxiety. The goal here is to get solely on oxcarbazepine and not take prozac or zyprexa. Even get to the point where I’m not taking lorazepam as my anti-anxiety benzodiazepine. Currently, I’m still on the olanzepine (zyprexa) and the lorazepam (ativan). However, this medication change coupled with something else was really throwing me for a loop these last two weeks.
My brother, Ninja, that lives an hour away from me wants to bring me in on a project at the encouragement of the Enlightener (my mother). He wants my help programming these little Texas Instrument microcontroller/embedded processor boards for a little thing he’s making in C. I can program in C, and I said I’d do it, but it’s going to require me to learn some new stuff with C and a program called Code Composer on my slow laptop and all of that jazz. I have barely looked at it since then because I’ve been battling terrible anxiety and anger these last several weeks. And of course, because I’ve put it off, right on Mom’s schedule of when she thought I’d do it, I have turned this whole thing into some kind of anxiety inducing project where I get all worked up over being able to do it and not working on it and so on and so on.
So here I am, laying on the couch in my apartment alone, a grown ass man, thrashing around and groaning like a little kid throwing a tantrum. By the time dinner rolled around, I literally ran out of time. I was done. I was out of the game. I was bordering into delusional. And it wasn’t working. Maus was able to calm me down enough that we could talk like normal people and I finally got a lot of stuff out that I guess I didn’t realize I’d been holding in. He lamented that his attitude that seemed to get in my head in the most neurotic way that I should always be doing something and always be happy had taken its logical course. He was sad that his expectations had seemed to eventually drive me crazy, but I told him that wasn’t all him. It’s not all him… it’s all me… being a crazy person.
So what were we going to do about this? Well, we decided that I needed to have something I could focus on in these times. Something that could help me, and I told him I actually wished I had a calming rock. Like, an anti-anxiety rock, maybe that would help. So we decided we were going to drive to Pearl Street Mall and get one tomorrow (which as of this writing was yesterday). We were going to the hippy city to get our hippy rock. I did a little research and found that Blue Lace Agate was the type of rock we wanted for antianxiety efforts. So, Saturday, we went to Boulder, parked, and got out there into the city. We hadn’t been there in a long time, and I had forgotten what Pearl Street was like in the late summer. It was so peaceful and nice, and there were buskers and things there that were fun. We made it a whole day out, and it was nice. I finally was doing something and it wasn’t anxiety inducing. It’s kind of funny really. We were greeted right out of the gate with some nice shots from the top of the parking garage:
As soon as we got out on the street we immediately saw an impromptu artist having fun with the giant rock that pours water down each of its sides. I captured it on my Instagram. It was pretty cool, he was just using the leaves and foliage around him to create a scene:
Next we popped into the Lighthouse Bookstore, basically a super new age spiritual bookstore. It has lots of cool things, figurines, necklaces, bracelets, and lots of books. This was our first stop on our way to the Crystal Gallery Ltd. shop further down the street. I looked over all the books to see if anything fresh popped out at me, and what do you know, look what I found:
One of the last two Seth books I’m missing from my collection of the main canon of the Seth Material! The Way Toward Health is the last book in the official series of “Seth Speaks” books, and unfortunately is the end and the last of the Seth Material books. Now I’m only missing The Magical Approach book. We decided to buy it since I was going to eventually get it anyway, but I thought it was a strange coincidence that we just happened upon it. Nobody really carries the Seth Material books anymore, you have to get them from online sellers, but, here it was, just for me. Maus bought a gold ankh, because he hadn’t had an ankh in a while, and we got another necklace free.
A little further down the street we ran into a street performer. There was something about him that inspired me to take a bit of video so here it is:
We went further down the street and this time ran into some “intentional” street art. It was an installation supported by the Boulder arts body called “Are You Me?” I thought it was nifty, so I took a bit of video of it moving around:
We finally make it to Crystal Gallery Ltd. and funny enough it wasn’t exactly what we thought we were looking for. We were looking for some kind of hippy store with lots of kitsch and little trinkets and things with a few bracelets or necklaces hanging around. This was a fancy rock store with some jewelry on the side. It did actually have cheaper singular stones of various kinds for sale, so that was good. I walked up to presumably the owner (he seemed like the owner) and I shared that we had come in specifically for Blue Lace Agate. He said, “That’s funny. We just had a woman come in for that and upon examining what we had we just came across a pendant made of that specifically that we didn’t know we had. We just found it two minutes ago!” It was serendipitous, kind of like Seth. Here they had just discovered a pendant that they didn’t even know they had two minutes ago and I walk in and request something like it. Well, it was too good to pass up and we got the pendant. Maus said I could wear it as a necklace with his mother’s russian silver chain. I was hooked:
It’s so pretty! I know it’s probably a a woman’s necklace, but I don’t care. It’s mine now! We also got a singular blue lace agate rock to put in my pocket as well. We went further down the street, past the end of the mall and ended up in a used bookstore. Now THIS was a used bookstore, it was overwhelming the number and range of books it had. I was impressed. It’s definitely a place to get lost in for hours multiple times at a stretch. We went to go get a sandwich from one of the street vendors, but wouldn’t you know it, with our jaunt to the bookstore we arrived just as they closed. So we ended up getting a pizza slice and calzone from a nice pizza place on the mall. We looked at other restaurants, and found this French one that charged like $22 for one plate… yeah, no. It was nice! We even got boba tea from Kucha and we read a little ghost story. It was fun.
Then we went to the Boulder Book Store, the third book store we were in that day. We started getting a little tired of looking at so many books (the blasphemy!), but I did see this on the shelves (I saw it at Lighthouse as well). Perhaps it could be an interesting read:
We also bought a book too at the Boulder bookstore, though I don’t have a picture of it. It’s a book about helping yourself refuse to be miserable. It uses Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy, something I’ve read and heard about before, but hey, I think I’ll try reading it and applying it. I like how I’m feeling now (more on that below), so might as well try to keep it up right? I hate being miserable.
All in all, the day wound to a close. The sun was going down, and I felt so relaxed. It was so nice not to have all this anxiety weighing down on me all the time. I hadn’t started wearing my necklace yet, that was to come last evening and today. We got this shot in before we got to a higher place in the parking center. I love this time of day when the sun is setting behind the mountains:
However, right outside the elevator, we also got this shot in:
I have started wearing the pendant as Maus described. I have to tell you, it’s weird as I’m not into just accepting every hokey-pokey thing out there simply because someone says something, and it’s probably a big placebo effect, but I think the pendant is working. I’m attributing it more to how loving and nice Maus was yesterday and all the serendipitous things that happened, kind of like a psychological reset button. I also got a lot out yesterday and expended quite a bit of energy. But, today wearing the pendant, I’ve been calm and un-anxious all day.
In fact, I even did something in the apartment I haven’t done in a long time. I wrote a technical article in the apartment. I considered doing it in at the library, but I didn’t really want to go out. So I just felt my pendant and did it at home. I even made dinner without feeling like it was the end of the world, and in fact it wasn’t as I’m writing this post after dinner. This is supposed to be the miserable time where I can’t do anything til I fall asleep. I want to keep this up, I feel more relaxed right now then I have the past three weeks. If believing it’s the pendant will work, then I’m willing to do that. It’s pretty too anyways. Here’s a shot of our dinner:
We canceled this week’s Blue Apron because we’re really backed up in dishes. Our new goal is to work through and make all the dishes, though, some of the ingredients have gone bad because, you know, after several weeks things go bad! So when we pick out a recipe in the morning we’ll have to check to see if we need any additional ingredients to make the dish. Most everything is supplied, it usually ends up being a few ingredients. I know, I know, that’s kind of defeating the Blue Apron thing of not having to get the ingredients (or more importantly pay for ingredients twice), but it is what it is.
Well, this is a relaxed and calm Asher, without anxiety, signing off! Thanks for reading!